Is Your Team Fired Up or Burned Out?
It’s safe to assume that business owners and managers prefer that their teams always strive to do great work, whether that’s taking care of customers day-to-day or on initiatives that contribute to reaching long-term company goals. Organizations with lofty goals usually have a lot of irons in the fire to increase their odds of reaching them. An unfortunate byproduct can be periods of unusually heavy workloads for their teams, creating an environment smoldering with employee burnout.
It’s a myth that we can multi-task, meaning truly do multiple things simultaneously. The brain will always pick one activity on which to concentrate. Consider: How engaged are you with the presenter’s material while scrolling through email on your phone? We’re all guilty of this, in one situation or another, even when we’re aware of what we’re doing.
If you’re seeing telltale signs of burnout from your high achievers - exhaustion, forgetfulness, negativity and pessimism - you’re not alone. According to a study by Kronos, 95% of human resource leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their efforts to retain their workforce.
Business owners should know the real and hidden costs behind employee turnover (recruitment, training, losses in productivity and morale, etc.). Once your people leave, it’s too late.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the book, "Essentialism," by Greg McKeown, provides great insight into focusing on the “vital few” versus the “trivial many.” In my opinion, the first step in evaluating workloads is eliminating the need for people to be burdened by non-essential activities.
How are you proactively managing burnout? If you’re seeing the familiar signs in the faces of those around you, it’s time to sound the alarm and take some corrective measures. Here are a few habits that can alleviate a slow burn:
Acknowledge levels of importance. Prioritizing remains a real challenge for many leaders and their teams. Everything can’t be a top priority. In our organization, we use a business planning system to set our long-range, annual and quarterly goals. Still, unexpected projects pop up. Some of my best mentors and now my strongest team members are masterful at communicating what needs time and attention to be done well versus what is better to just have done. Or not done at all. That helps everyone better allocate their time and effort in the right places.
Know when to let go. Are you spending time on tasks that really belong in someone else’s hands? We may tell ourselves we’re saving time or money, but in most instances, it’s a poor use of both. If your desk or inbox is creating a bottleneck in progress, trust those you have around you and let go of some oversight. Will they do it just like you would? Remember that “different” and “wrong” are not synonymous.
Be wise about revising. For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on my presentation for our annual franchise convention later this month. As the concept and messaging took shape, rewrites and revisions were natural and expected. Still, the time comes to stop tweaking and mark it done ... my teammates reminded me of this. Finetuning is fine, if it’s not holding up anyone else and the outcome is improved.
Put a stop to the drive-by. If your team sees you heading in their direction and they actively avoid making eye contact, you may have a reputation for handing out drive-by assignments. Unless it’s “hot” and jumps to the top of someone’s to-do list, find a different way to divvy out new work, preferably in a regularly scheduled meeting.
Take the feedback. Our organization uses an annual workplace survey to poll team members about their perceptions and attitudes about their jobs. Do they have the proper resources and training they need? Are they able to do what they do best everyday? Do they feel recognized and appreciated? We share the year-over-year results in a company-wide meeting to see where we’ve made gains and what needs a little more attention. Don’t wait for exit interviews to find out what’s not working. Ask now.
A fired-up team is magic! It’s up to organizational leaders to set a pace that lights people up and ignites real passion.
Kevin Cushing leads the Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, KKP, Speedy Printing and Zippy Prints brands as president of Alliance Franchise Brands' Marketing and Print Division.
Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign and Graphics Operations LLC, is a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in North America and the United Kingdom. The Marketing and Print Division is headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan. Franchise owners in this division offer one-stop marketing and print communications services. Its Sign and Graphics Division, headquartered in Middle River, Maryland, includes Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign, graphics and visual communications providers.
Cushing has owned and operated award-winning franchise locations, was inducted into Epicomm's Soderstrom Society, and was named Print CEO of the Year in 2011 when he served as CEO of AlphaGraphics Inc.